‘Cinema Build KSA Forum’ aims to boost Saudi entertainment sector

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Badr Al Zahrani, CEO of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), opening the Cinema Build KSA Forum in Riyadh on April 14, 2019. (Supplied photo)
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Badr Al Zahrani, CEO of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), speaking at the opening the Cinema Build KSA Forum in Riyadh on April 14, 2019. (Supplied photo)
Updated 14 April 2019

‘Cinema Build KSA Forum’ aims to boost Saudi entertainment sector

  • Forum attracts 300 attendees, 50 speakers, and exhibitors from 30 countries 
  • SR267 billion to build suitable infrastructure for entertainment across the Kingdom

RIYADH: The General Authority for Entertainment has indicated that the entertainment sector needs SR267 billion to build suitable infrastructure for entertainment across the Kingdom, with expected investments in the sector to reach SR18 billion annually, according to a 2018 report from Flanders Investment and Trade.

Vox Cinemas, a subsidiary of UAE-based Majid Al Futtaim, was awarded the second license to open cinemas in the Kingdom. The company also plans to invest SR2 billion in 600 screens over the next five years, which Saudi officials estimate will bring the total number of cinemas to 350 and the number of screens to 2,500 by 2030.

The first movie theater opened in Riyadh on April 18, 2018, and about 30 movie theaters are to be opened in 15 cities around the Kingdom within five years. The anticipated audience will visit 300 cinemas with more than 2,000 screens in the Kingdom by 2030 and the sector is forecast to be worth about $1 billion over the next few years.

The Cinema Build KSA Forum, in partnership with the General Commission of Audiovisual Media (GCAM), the forum’s government supporting partner, attracted more than 300 attendees and KSA potential market-stakeholders from 30 countries in addition to more than 25 exhibitors for two days.

The sessions — led by 25 prominent international speakers and industry experts — discussed investment opportunities, business collaborations and future partnerships, cinema industry competitiveness through design and innovative theming, and redesigning existing entertainment hubs such as shopping malls to include cinemas.

Organized by  Eyes  of Cities in collaborationwith  Great Minds Event Management, Cinema Build KSA Forum has brought together stakeholders across the design, construction and technology sectors to discuss the latest trends and techniques  of building  world-class cinemas in the Kingdom. The event revealed  a range of new building solutions and equipment used in developing future cinemas, multiplexes and malls to serve as a key contributor to the industry.     

With a population of more than 32 million, the majority of whom are under the age of 30, Saudis spend about $30 billion annually on tourism and entertainment outside the Kingdom, which makes movie theaters open to a domestic market expected to be worth up to $1 billion in annual box-office sales by 2030.

On the sidelines of the forum, Sunil Puthan Veettil, managing director of Carnival Cinemas, said: “Carnival envisions to operate around 300-plus screens over the next five years in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Our mission is to take good-quality movie-watching experience close to the people in the country. For this, we have made a study of all the provinces and identified several locations, subject to approval. Our idea is to move to all these provinces to set up entertainment centers.”

At the end of the first day, forum organizers held an award ceremony where Dr. Kamel Mohamed, CEO of East Delta Saudi, presented a memento to GCAM’s CEO Badr Al Zahrani to honor his efforts in supporting the forum. Dr. Kamel also presented mementos of appreciation to VOX, Carnival, Empire, Cinepolis, MUVI (Fawaz Alhokair) in recognition of their efforts to develop the cinema sector in the Kingdom. Eyes of Riyadh received a memento for supporting Great Minds Event Management’s efforts in marketing the forum.

Leila Masinaei, managing partner at Great Minds Event Management, said: “The world is witnessing Saudi Arabia’s confident steps toward an unprecedented era of social and economic reforms. The lifting of the cinema ban opens doors to untrodden grounds for investment and lucrative revenue streams for the Kingdom and entertainment sector stakeholders.

“We at Great Minds Events’ envisioned and have foreseen the massive growth opportunities in the entertainment sector in KSA; hence we are organizing Cinema Build KSA Forum to represent a global platform and bring (together) key entertainment project owners, government decision-makers, regional and international retail developers, family entertainment centers developers and cinemas. Consequently, Cinema Build KSA invites all stakeholders to explore the opportunities in the entertainment sector, as reports expect at least 300 cinemas, in addition to numerous family entertainment centers, to be built by 2030.”

Partnering with Cinema Build KSA were a number of  high-profile entities in the field  of entertainment, cinema constructions and technology such as VOX, Cinepolis, AMC, Empire, Carnival, Fawaz Alhokair Group, MUVI Cinemas, Jeddah Park, Compass Project Management, TK Architects, & Design Novel Architecture.

‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition in Riyadh museum breathes new life into ancient sites 

Updated 19 April 2019

‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition in Riyadh museum breathes new life into ancient sites 

  • National Museum in Riyadh hosts digital show that tells the story of Mosul, Palmyra, Aleppo and Leptis Magna

JEDDAH: An exhibition that uses digital technology to revive the region’s ancient sites and civilizations that have been destroyed or are under threat due to conflict and terrorism opened at the National Museum in Riyadh on April 18.

“Age-Old Cities” tells the story of four historically significant cities that have been devastated by violence: Mosul in Iraq, Palmyra and Aleppo in Syria, and Leptis Magna in Libya. 

Using stunning giant-screen projections, virtual reality, archival documents and images, and video testimonials from inhabitants of the affected sites, the immersive exhibition transports visitors back in time and presents the cities as they were in their prime. 

It charts their journey from the origins of their ancient civilizations to their modern-day state, and presents plans for their restoration and repair. 

The exhibition has been organized by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. Riyadh is the first stop outside the French capital on the exhibition’s global tour. 

The exhibition follows last month’s unveiling of the Kingdom’s new cultural vision, which included the announcement of several initiatives, including a new residency scheme for international artists to practice in the Kingdom and the establishment of the Red Sea International Film Festival. 

Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, minister of culture, said: “I am delighted to welcome the ‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition to Riyadh. 

“It highlights the importance of heritage preservation, particularly here in the Middle East, and the vulnerability of some of our historic sites. 

“It must be the responsibility of governments to put an end to this damage and neglect, and to put heritage at the heart of action, investment, and policy.

“I will be encouraging my fellow members of government to attend this eye-opening exhibition in our National Museum, and hope to work in the future with partners, governments and experts to do what we can to secure our region’s heritage.”

The exhibition carries a significant message about the importance of preserving and protecting these precious but fragile sites — one which resonates strongly in the week when one of the world’s most-famous heritage sites, Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral, went up in flames.